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Peace efforts take a hit as liberals face opposition

world Updated: May 28, 2013 01:19 IST

Hindustan Times
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Syria's opposition crisis deepened on Monday when liberals were offered only token representation, undermining international efforts to lend Islamist-dominated alliance greater support.

To the dismay of Western and Arab nations envoys monitoring opposition talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition thwarted a deal to admit a liberal bloc headed by opposition campaigner Michel Kilo.

The failure to broaden the coalition could undermine Saudi Arabian support for the revolt and raise the specter of a rivalry among Gulf powers that could further weaken the opposition.

The plan also had support from Saudi Arabia, which had been preparing to assume a bigger role in coalition politics and has been uneasy about the rise of Qatar's influence, coalition insiders said.

Its apparent failure to do so came hours before the European Union was scheduled at a meeting in Brussels to discuss lifting an arms embargo that could allow weapons to reach rebel fighters in Syria seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The disarray also threatens to strengthen Assad's hand ahead of an international peace conference backed by the US and Russia, planned to be held in Geneva in the coming weeks.